Gawad gets his act together in El Gouna
By SEAN REUTHE
Egyptian duo Karim Abdel Gawad and Fares Dessouky gave the home fans at El Gouna’s New Marina plenty to cheer about after they claimed respective wins over Spain’s Borja Golan and Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly on the fourth day of main draw action at the 2017 El Gouna International Squash Open, World Series tournament.
World Champion Gawad lost out to Golan in their last meeting during February’s Windy City Open, a defeat which put a big dent in the 25-year-old’s attempts to reach World No.1, but recovered from a game down in Egypt to claim a 9-11, 11-1, 11-8, 11-5 victory in 61 minutes.
“I didn’t play my best in the last couple of tournaments, so mentally I really needed to focus in this tournament,” Gawad said.
“I needed to have a good start in the beginning, especially against Borja. I just played him [in the Windy City Open] and lost to him in Chicago and, for me, he’s one of the toughest players to play.
“I suffer playing my attacking game against him because he has very good counter-drops at the front of the court. Mentally, I just wanted to have a good start today, I wanted to win today and I wanted to keep the performance that I’ve had since August. I’m really glad to get through to the quarters here, especially in Egypt.”
Gawad will line up against German No.1 Simon Rösner for a place in the semi-finals after Rösner claimed a comfortable 3-0 victory over Egyptian qualifier Karim Ali Fathi.
Meanwhile, Dessouky moved into the last eight courtesy of a 3-0 triumph over Australian No.1 Ryan Cuskelly.
Dessouky, who reached the semi-finals of the World Series tournament last year, caused one of the biggest shocks of the tournament in round one with a superb scalp over three-time World Champion Nick Matthew and he picked up where left off against ‘The Wolf’ to come through in straight games against Cuskelly, beating the World No.14 11-9, 11-7, 1-11, 11-8.
“I lost my concentration in the match a couple of times,” Dessouky admitted.
“I didn’t start well today then from 9-7 at the end, I started playing well and I won the first game 11-9. In the second, I played really well, I was focused, then I lost concentration again in the third.
“I went off court and said to myself that I had to give it everything, I had to win the game. He wasn’t going to give me any cheap points to grab the win.”
Two-time World Junior Champion Diego Elias will meet Dessouky in the quarter-finals after the Peruvian got the better of Mexico’s Cesar Salazar, beating the World No.20 in straight games.
The duo, roommates for this tournament, played some fast and furious squash, with Elias displaying some fine retrieval skills to prevail by an 11-9, 13-11, 11-4 margin – earning his place in the quarter-finals of a World Series tournament for the first time in his fledgling career.
“What made me retrieve all of his shots is determination,” 20-year-old Elias revealed.
“I have been losing in first round and second round matches that I should have won. I have been training very hard, so I am now ready for long matches, long rallies. It doesn’t matter if a match goes to five, I am ready. I can play those intense rallies because I trust my fitness, and I know I can recover.”
PSA M150 El Gouna International Squash Open, El Gouna, Egypt.
Second Round (Bottom Half):
Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 3-1: 11-9, 11-7, 1-11, 11-8 (60m)
Diego Elias (PER) bt Cesar Salazar (MEX) 3-0: 11-9, 13-11, 11-4 (51m)
 Simon Rösner (GER) bt [Q] Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) 3-0: 11-4, 11-6, 11-8 (38m)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Borja Golan (ESP) 3-1: 9-11, 11-1, 11-8, 11-5 (61m)
Quarter-Finals (Top Half, To Be Played April 11):
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
Paul Coll (NZL) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
Quarter-Finals (Bottom Half, To Be Played April 12):
Fares Dessouky (EGY) v Diego Elias (PER)
 Simon Rösner (GER) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA